By: Hannah Straw
Growing up in the somewhat small town of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, which happens to be a quick drive over the Red River into Grand Forks, I was no stranger to everything UND (University of North Dakota). I was that kid, with my little brother Zach, who joined the “Sioux Kids Club” as soon as we could. We were lucky enough to ride the Zamboni at the Ralph Engelstad Arena during the men’s hockey games and run out of the inflatable football helmet with the team before the football games at the Alerus Center.
My family, which consists of my parents, brother and me, even captured our love for UND when our 2003 Christmas card was a family photo of us in the football locker room. I can still vividly remember my brother, excited as can be, clenching a black sharpie looking for anyone to autograph one of our many UND t-shirts. As I grew up, I continued to regularly attend events including hockey games, summer strength and conditioning programs and various Potato Bowl festivities at the university to name a few.
With so much of my young life revolving around UND, you can imagine the shock my family felt when I decided to buy my first NDSU Bison t-shirt and attend North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo for college. Although Grand Forks and the people there were exceptional, I was growing up and felt I needed to spread my wings, even if it was only a short 72 miles south of home.
Now that I’m officially a college graduate, I can say with certainty that attending NDSU for the past four years was one of the best decisions I’ve made as a young adult. Aside from the fact that I was able to personally watch my college’s football team win five National Football Championships from 2011-2015, my experience was so much more. In the classroom, my involvement in Greek Life, study abroad trips, membership in other organizations on campus and working numerous part-time jobs, I was able to explore and enjoy another beautiful area of North Dakota. In doing so, I was lucky enough to meet and interact with a different, yet just as amazing group of people who were the true definition of “North Dakota nice.”
Beginning a new career has brought me to a new part of North Dakota – Bismarck. I am looking forward to exploring the area and meeting another group of kind, generous and helpful people. Although I’m only 22 and still have a lot to learn, one thing I’ve come to realize over the years is that no matter where you go in North Dakota, you’ll feel at home. I am a Minnesota native who is planting my roots in North Dakota, and the reason I’m doing so is because of the great experiences and wonderful people I’ve met along the way in Grand Forks, Fargo and now, Bismarck.